How Self Employment Could Improve Your Mental Health

Approximately six years ago I quit my full time job and took the decision to become self employed.  After an exploratory journey, I launched my own successful community magazine and haven’t been employed in what some regard as a proper job ever since.  I hope I can work through the rest of my life without needing to again! 

For me, taking the decision to become self employed was possibly one of the best decisions I ever made and I believe it has contributed and continues to contribute to a life of feeling mentally and emotionally well in immensely significant ways.

improve your mental health by becoming self employed

So, how could being self employed support and nurture your mental and emotional wellbeing?

1.  Self Employment Allows You To Be True To Your Needs

While working for myself I’ve fallen ill, experienced loss, and juggled a number of personal challenges and testing times.  In really difficult times, due to the nature of my work, I’ve been able to take time off and nurture myself in the way that I need to without needing to tell any of my clients.  Deadlines have still been met and customers expectations have been managed, yet unbeknown to them I may have decided on the spare of the moment to take a day to sleep, ground myself, support a friend or family member in need and so on.  I don’t have to explain myself to anyone, in the worse case I may need to send a few emails to reschedule a meeting, but not very often.  In essence, if I need a mental health day, I take one.  In my business, health comes first!

2.  Self Employment Builds Self Esteem

The things I have accomplished through running my own business, have become some of the greatest achievements of my life.  It is a lot of hard work, I’m not denying that.  However, no bonus related pay or glowing appraisal can top the self esteem I’ve gained through seeing my own hard work pay off and deliver something of value to other businesses and individuals.  I no longer need the approval of a line manager to confirm that my work has been worthwhile, or that I’ve done a good job.  I see the results myself and know that even though I have received invaluable support, for which I am eternally grateful, the results have come from ME – I did it, I made it happen.

3.  Self Employment Fuels A Life Of Passion

The other great joy about choosing to work for yourself, is that you can choose what that business is.  I struggled when I was working for large corporations who were more interested in their bottom line than anything else.  Through running my own business I have been able to create ethical business plans that I passionately believe add value to people’s lives.  When I’m passionate about what I do, motivation is not a problem!! Although it doesn’t generate an enormous income yet, The Mind Sanctuary is the ultimate example of a business model driven by passion.  And rather than wake up in the morning feeling totally unmotivated to go to work, I usually wake up early, itching to get moving!

Self Employment & Mental Health – The Good & The Bad

In this article I’ve mentioned just three of the many benefits I’ve experienced through working for myself, but there are downsides to self employment that anyone suffering from mental health issues needs to be particularly aware of. 

Depending upon the nature of your work, you could experience increased isolation, so you need to plan for that, and make sure you get out and about and network.

It can be stressful, and naturally too much stress is not good for our mental health, so you need to ensure you look after yourself and don’t let your business take over your life.

Overall, being self employed is frought with challenges and obstacles, that need to be managed.  Making sure you create a good support network, build a solid plan, and develop the skills required to make your business succeed are essential for making your life run as smoothly as possible.

Regardless of the challenges and obstacles and potential pitfalls, becoming self employed was definitely one of the best moves I EVER made.  It’s allowed me to develop my own individual character and identity more easily and freely, and work towards creating a lifestyle that fulfils me.  For me, the benefits make all of the challenges worthwhile.

If you would like to consider becoming self employed, there is a lot of support available to help you figure out what you can do and how to do it.

These FOUR types of resources have been the most helpful to me:

  1. Life coaching:  To help me figure out just what I want to do with my life.
  2. Studying:  To learn the skills required (you don’t have to know it all already!)
  3. Business coaching/mentoring: To figure out a sound business plan
  4. Networking: Online and offline to help build relationships and connect with like minded people

Some useful and inspiring links

Business Opportunities And Ideas – does what it says on the tin

Business Link: FREE support and advice

WIRE – Women In Rural Enterprise

Womanzworld – The Ultimate Resource For Female Entrepreneurs

Location Independent – Live AND Work From Anywhere You Choose

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6 Responses to How Self Employment Could Improve Your Mental Health
  1. John Crickett
    August 16, 2010 | 12:29 pm


    Thanks for mentioning my website. Always good to know that others are finding it useful.

    Regards, John

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tina Gibbons, Tina Gibbons. Tina Gibbons said: @BeatriceJBray indeed… my new blog post: How Self Employment Improved My Mental Health CC @dmarsd @karlwilding [...]

  3. Tina Gibbons
    August 16, 2010 | 2:06 pm

    You’re welcome John…

  4. Gill Potter
    August 16, 2010 | 2:39 pm

    Thanks for your inspiring article. I recently decided to give up my job and make my passion into my business. It hasn’t been easy so far and my own unfinished business and issues have got in the way. However by persevering I believe I can make it work and regardless of my own “mental health” issues that I too have had in the past I hope I can help others through what I have studied and learned in my life.
    What a lovely post. Namaste.

  5. Tina Gibbons
    August 16, 2010 | 8:26 pm

    Thank you Gill.

    Congratulations on taking the plunge. It makes sense that the student may become the teacher doesn’t it… Happy to have met you, and look forward to connecting more over the coming months/years as we both move forward :-)

  6. Can employment affect your mental health
    August 18, 2010 | 11:34 pm

    [...] fundamental to my recovery from mental illness.  I touched on it briefly in my previous post – How Self Employment Could Improve Your Mental Health.  I know that I’m not suited to a 9-5 routine in an office, working on projects, which to me [...]

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